Published: Mon, December 19, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Woman first to give birth using ovary frozen during childhood

A 24-year-old Dubai native has become the first woman to give birth after having her fertility restored from ovarian tissue frozen during her childhood.

She is the first person in the world to have had a successful pregnancy using ovarian tissue that was harvested before the onset of puberty and the only person to have her ovaries transplanted back after 13 years in storage.

As the treatment would render her infertile, her parents asked doctors to remove and freeze her right ovary. But on her return to the United Kingdom in 2015, Matthews had found a surgical team in Denmark willing to work with the frozen tissue and transplant it back into her body in August 2015.

Eggs began growing in the transplanted tissue over time, and Matrooshi's hormones returned to normal levels, allowing her to ovulate.

Her doctor, Sara Matthews, had previously worked with Picton as a medical fellow. The case provides evidence that doctors could potentially restore fertility in these women by freezing their ovary tissue at a very young age, she said.

She then underwent IVF treatment with her husband, Ahmed, to boost their chances of conceiving. She says this birth is "incredibly encouraging", and points out that worldwide more than 60 babies have been born from women who have had their fertility restored.

"I always believed that I would be a mum and I would have a baby", Al Matrooshi told the BBC.

Matrooshi was born with an inherited blood disorder called beta thalassaemia, which is fatal if not treated. "I didn't stop hoping and now I have this baby - it is a flawless feeling".

After the ovarian tissue was first removed, it was mixed with cryo-protective agents and stored under liquid nitrogen. They sliced off four slivers of tissue and implanted them into the busted ovary, plus one more into the side of her uterus.

Prof Helen Picton, who leads the division of reproduction and early development at the University of Leeds, carried out the ovary freezing.

She told the organisation's Fergus Walsh: 'It's like a miracle. The first human baby born from ovary tissue preservation would not be delivered until 2004, in Belgium.

Small sections of ovarian tissue were transplanted step by step to result in a fully functional ovary. It was even more uncertain that a live birth would be possible from the tissue of a girl who had not yet reached puberty, Picton said.

Earlier this year a cancer patient from Edinburgh became the first United Kingdom woman to give birth following a transplant of her frozen ovary tissue.

Danish surgeons a year ago transplanted five parts of the frozen fragments into her body.

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